Perly—Unix with buttons



Modern UNIX-based graphical workstations still lack really graphical interfaces. Yet recreating existing UNIX tools with graphical interfaces may prove to be a prohibitive task. This paper describes the design and implementation of a set of tools that make the task of providing a graphical UNIX user interface easier. The main tool, called Perly, provides on-screen graphical buttons connected to UNIX command scripts. When a button is pressed, the associated command script is executed. The buttons are highly configurable, encouraging users to tailor and extend their workstation environment. The idea of onscreen buttons with underlying programmable scripts comes from the work done at Xerox EuroPARC into user-tailorable systems. Descriptions of Perly buttons are held in plain text files, allowing them to be given to other users via electronic mail. Examples of the use of buttons and the ideas behind the implementation of Perly buttons under the X Window System are discussed.